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C++ Example of a while Loop Abusively Crammed into a for Loop Header
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// read all the records from a file for ( inputFile.MoveToStart(), recordCount = 0; !inputFile.EndOfFile(); recordCount++ ) { inputFile.GetRecord(); }
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The advantage of C++ s for loop over for loops in other languages is that it s more flexible about the kinds of initialization and termination information it can use. The weakness inherent in such flexibility is that you can put statements into the loop header that have nothing to do with controlling the loop. Reserve the for loop header for loop-control statements statements that initialize the loop, terminate it, or move it toward termination. In the example above, the inputFile.GetRecord() statement in the body of the loop moves the loop toward termination, but the recordCount statements don t; they re housekeeping statements that don t control the loop s progress. Putting the recordCount statements in the loop header and leaving the inputFile.GetRecord() statement out is misleading; it creates the false impression that recordCount controls the loop. If you want to use the for loop rather than the while loop in this case, put the loop-control statements in the loop header and leave everything else out. Here s the right way to use the loop header:
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16. Controlling Loops
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C++ Example of Logical if Unconventional Use of a for Loop Header
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recordCount = 0; for ( inputFile.MoveToStart(); !inputFile.EndOfFile(); inputFile.GetRecord() ) { recordCount++; }
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The contents of the loop header in this example are all related to control of the loop. The inputFile.MoveToStart() statement initializes the loop; the !inputFile.EndOfFile() statement tests whether the loop has finished; and the inputFile.GetRecord() statement moves the loop toward termination. The statements that affect recordCount don t directly move the loop toward termination and are appropriately not included in the loop header. The while loop is probably still more appropriate for this job, but at least this code uses the loop header logically. For the record, here s how the code looks when it uses a while loop:
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C++ Example of Appropriate Use of a while Loop
// read all the records from a file inputFile.MoveToStart(); recordCount = 0; while ( !inputFile.EndOfFile() ) { inputFile.GetRecord( &inputRec[ recordCount ], MAX_CHARS ); recordCount++; }
Processing the Middle of the Loop
Here are several guidelines for handling the middle of a loop:
Use { and } to enclose the statements in a loop Use code brackets every time. They don t cost anything in space or speed at run time, they help readability, and they help prevent errors as the code is modified. They re a good defensive programming practice. Avoid empty loops In C++ and Java, it s possible to create an empty loop, one in which the work the loop is doing is coded on the same line as the test that checks whether the work is finished. Here s an example:
C++ Example of an Empty Loop
while ( ( inputChar = cin.get() ) != '\n' ) { ; }
In this example, the loop is empty because the while expression includes two things: the work of the loop inputChar = cin.get() and a test for whether the
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16. Controlling Loops
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loop should terminate inputChar != <;$QS>\n<;$QS>. The loop would be clearer if it were recoded so that the work it does is evident to the reader. Here s how the revised loop would look:
C++ Example of an Empty Loop Converted to an Occupied Loop
do { inputChar = cin.get(); } while ( inputChar != '\n' );
The new code takes up three full lines rather than one line and a semicolon, which is appropriate since it does the work of three lines rather than that of one line and a semicolon.
Keep loop-housekeeping chores at either the beginning or the end of the loop Loop housekeeping chores are expressions like i = i + 1, expressions whose main purpose isn t to do the work of the loop but to control the loop. Here s an example in which the housekeeping is done at the end of the loop:
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